WHAT THE FILM FESTIVAL (WTFF)

What The Film Fest 2018

  

March 24 & 25, 2018

The Laser Blast Film Society is proud to present the 4th edition of the What The Film Festival, an annual celebration of contemporary eccentric cinema.

From March 24 to 25 at The Royal Cinema, this year’s festival not only promises five feature films, including two world premieres, but will also inaugurate the What The Film Bazaar presented by Arrow Video, a market floor for VHS tape-traders, indie comic collectors, underground artists and vendors of obscure and cult cinema.

What The Film Festival fills a gap in Toronto’s dense film festival landscape, showcasing outlier and outsider films that intersect definitions of both genre and avant-garde cinema and operate outside the traditional parameters of taste and convention. It is made possible in part by the funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Secure your All-Access Pass today for $40!

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All-Access Pass!

$ 40
An All-Access Pass gets you:
Access to all five screenings at The Royal Cinema
Access to the festival bazaar at The Monarch Tavern
A limited print of the festival’s 2018 poster (illustrated by Shira Haberman)

The 2018 Lineup

  

Click the tabs to reveal the 2018 film schedule and subscribe to the Facebook Event while you're at it!

The WHAT THE FILM BAZAAR presented by ARROW VIDEO schedule will go live on Feb. 28th!

7:00 PM – THE LAPLACE’S DEMON
Dir. Giordano Giulivi / Italy / 2017 / 109 min
TORONTO PREMIERE!
Scientists find themselves ensnared in a sinister game of fate where their every decision has been anticipated and engineered to systematically send them to their doom in this sci-fi noir shot entirely against rear-screen projections over seven years!

9:30 PM – MANGOSHAKE
Dir. Terry Chiu / Canada/ 2018 / 97 min
WORLD PREMIERE!
An uproarious lo-fi labyrinth of suburban adolescent shenanigans over ‘one crazy summer’ that recalls the generational coming-of-age myths of Richard Linklater or George Lucas’s American Graffiti and introduces a bold and brilliant new Canadian filmmaker!

4:00 PM – ANCHOR ZONE
Dir. Andrée Pelletier / Canada / 2017 / 82 min
35MM PRESENTATION!
A young woman living in a dystopian St. John’s must enlist in the aid of skateboarding punks to find her father. The Laser Blast Film Society will celebrate this obscure Newfoundland sci-fi adventure on a rare 35mm print!

6:30 PM – GREEN HOUSE
Dir. Armando Lamberti / USA / 2017 / 101 min
WORLD PREMIERE!
A comic character study of a sneering manifestation of arrested adolescence gradually crescendos into a full-blown familial melodrama after a young man is forced to move in with his estranged half-sister. Indie filmmaking reminiscent of Hal Hartley or early Wes Anderson.

9:00 PM – JUNK HEAD
Dir. Takahide Hori / Japan / 2017 / 114 min
TORONTO PREMIERE!
An eight-years in the making stop-motion tour-de-force that’s as whimsical as Wallace and Gromit, but with the aesthetic predilections of H.R. Giger. It’s picaresque plot concerns a cybernetic explorer’s descent into the recesses of the Earth to recover ancient DNA that promises to restore fertility to the human race.

Our 2018 Poster Illustrated by Shira Haberman!
WTF_2018_Web

PAST EDITIONS OF WHAT THE FILM FESTIVAL

The 3rd edition of the WHAT THE FILM FESTIVAL took place on June 24th, 2017 and screened the following films:

BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL

  • Dir. Shinichi Fukazawa
  • Cast: Shinichi Fukazawa, Masaaki Kai, Asako Nosaka
  • Japan / 2014 / 62 min / CANADIAN PREMIERE

First (and only) time writer/director/actor/editor/cinematographer/special effects creator Shinichi Fukazawa’s deliriously named film is a winking homage to Sam Raimi’s THE EVIL DEAD, transplanting the story of hapless folks getting besieged by anarchic evil spirits from a cabin in the woods to a traditional and claustrophobic Japanese home. Unfortunately for the vengeful ghosts, one of the hapless ain’t so helpless, as they happen to be the titular BODY BUILDER (portrayed by the director himself), and have brought along some barbells to this spook-a-blast brawl. Shot on grimy Super 8 in 1995, but only completed and released in 2014, Fukazawa impressively distills his love supernatural splatter to a lean 62 minutes, while colliding a familiar barrage of low-fi gore, stop-motion monsters, and verbatim Evil Dead one-liners without ever feeling like a rehash. In era of remakes and reboots, it is the rare cover that remixes its source into something fresh and surprising; a treasure of a cult film that desperately deserves an audience so that it can swallow their souls.

SYLVIO

  • Dir. Kentucker Audley, Albert Birney
  • Cast: Sylvio Bernardi, Kentucker Audley, Albert Birney
  • USA / 2017 / 80 min / CANADIAN PREMIERE

A downtrodden debt collector named Sylvio Bernardi becomes an overnight celebrity after he trips and inadvertently smashes up the set of a public-access television show in the middle of a broadcast to the delight of its audience. Recognizing the audience’s hunger to see more comical wanton destruction, the show’s producer and host (Kentucker Audley) invites him to be a regular guest. Sylvio accepts the opportunity, but only in the hope that this platform will permit him to expose the world to his true passion: performing micro-narratives with a hand-puppet of a balding middle-aged man named Herbert Herpels. Oh, and Sylvio is a gorilla that wears sunglasses; did I not mention that? Based on a popular VINE channel that chronicled the banal struggle of a working-class primate across 814 six-second clips, SYLVIO conjures up an absurd, but legitimately heartwarming (and coherent) satire and idiosyncratic character study that remarkably transcends its humble social media origins.

SHE’S ALLERGIC TO CATS

  • Dir. Michael Reich
  • Cast: Mike Pinkney, Sonja Kinski, Flula Borg,
  • USA / 2016 / 82 min / TORONTO PREMIERE

When a dog groomer (Mike Pinkey) who aspires to be recognized in Hollywood for his avant-garde video art asks out the girl of his dreams (Sonja Kinski, granddaughter of Klaus) and she accepts, he panics at the thought of inviting her over to his rat infested apartment. His anxiety leads him to illicitly procure a cat to help rid his apartment of the vermin… but oh god… the title of this movie… THIS WILL NOT END WELL! Funded entirely by working as a body double for one of the DAFT PUNK robots, Michael Reich’s incredible debut feature is a Linklater meet-cute soaked in an experimental VHS aesthetic that gradually escalates into a full-on Lynchian fever dream that dares to call out the disturbing nature of William Huyck’s HOWARD THE DARK and make a DVD copy of Frank Marshall’s CONGO look devastatingly sexy. (FILMMAKER MICHAEL REICH WILL BE IN ATTENDANCE!)

SHORT FILMS:

THE CURE

  • Dir. Mike Olenick
  • USA / 2017 / 20 min / CANADIAN PREMIERE
  • Precedes: BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL

A hypnotic sci-fi soap opera that collides the idiosyncratic private lives of both humans and aliens in a parade of sublime slow-zooms and kitschy feline totems.

CYBERTRONIC WARRIOR

  • Dir: Steven Kostanski
  • CANADA / 2017 / 4 min / WORLD PREMIERE
  • Precedes: SYLVIO

Director Steven Kostanski (The Void, Manborg) has partnered up with Transformers rockstars The Cybertronic Spree to lend his creative vision to their first original anthem, “Cybertronic Warrior.” Taking inspiration from Japanese mecha anime, TV and video games such as Robotech, The Super Sentai series, and Cybernator, this video follows the band through a dangerous space fortress filled with evil cybernetic life forms hell-bent on their destruction. They’ll have to load their courage files to make it through. But will they all survive?

LA TRISTESSE DURERA TOUJOURS

  • Dir. Vinny De Ghoulie
  • Cast: Vinny De Ghoulie, Vera R. Taylor
  • USA / 2017 / 10 min / CANADIAN PREMIERE
  • Precedes: SHE’S ALLERGIC TO CATS 

Vinny De Ghoulie returns to WHAT THE FILM FEST with what may very well be his 8 1⁄2 - a maddening deconstruction of his own process culled from the remnants of a feature film he mounted, but failed to to realize. As amusingly bemusing as it is devastating.

The 2nd edition of What The Film Festival took place from June 30th to July 2nd, 2016 and screened the following films.

DRAGON HUNT

  • Dir. Charlie Wiener
  • Cast: Martin and Michael McNamara, B.Bob, Steve Goof
  • Canada /1990 / 90 min

Hong Kong had Bruce Lee, Belgium has the Muscle from Brussels, and Uncle Sam is defended by the likes of Norris and Segal, but in the Great White North we have THE TWIN DRAGONS: Martin and Michael McNamara, two champion kickboxing brothers who in the late-1980s portrayed themselves in a duology of maple-syrup martial art epics would later become late-night TV staples throughout the country.

In each film, the McNamara’s found themselves antagonized by a sadistic woodland militia within the wilderness of Pointe au Baril, Ontario, but it was in their second effort DRAGON HUNT, that this formula was perfected; perhaps thanks to the addition of ninjas, nursery rhymes and ludicrous levels of explosions and gunfire. Further complimented by an infectious rock n’ roll soundtrack courtesy of Southern Ontario rocker Billy Butt and outrageous comic-book villainy from the mo-hawk sporting, Mother Goose-quoting Jake (B. Bob), only cult classics as notorious as MIAMI CONNECTION and DEADLY PREY can begin to approximate the martial arts mayhem that await audiences in this classic of Canuxploitation cinema.

DON’T LET THE RIVER BEAST GET YOU

  • Dir. Charles Rocburgh
  • Cast: Matt Farley, Kevin McGee, Sharon Scalzo
  • USA / 99 min / 2013 / CANADIAN PREMIERE!

Prepare to fall in love with the idiosyncratic cinema of Charles Roxburgh and Matt Farley, the latter of whom is perhaps better known as “the most prolific song-writer in the world”, having composed, sung and released over 18,000 songs through his label MOTERN MEDIA.

In DON’T LET THE RIVER BEAST GET YOU, Farley portrays Neil Stewart, a disgraced tutor / rock ‘n’ roller who returns to his sleepy New England town in an effort to prove the existence of a local aquatic menace and also win back the heart of his ex-fiancée, who left him out of embarrassment for his “river beast” obsession. As in their previous films, Charlie and Farley once again lampoon the tropes and traditions of low-budget B-movies by filtering them through their unique comic sensibility that skirts, but never falls into ironic mockery or condescending camp. Loquacious dialogue and ramshackle aesthetic quirks abound, but it is always couched in an air of wide-eyed sincerity that is sure to incite fits of giggles and intense endearment.

TANGO EUROPA (Work-In-Progress)

  • Dir. Bennet Jones
  • Cast: Bennet Jones, Will Crest, Ashley Gong
  • USA / 75 min / 2016

WHAT THE FILM FEST alumni Bennet Jones returns with a work-in-progress travelogue that follows the events of his acclaimed cult musical comedy I AM A KNIFE WITH LEGS, and sees the cynical International Pop rockstar Bené and his loyal sidekick Beefy traversing Europe incognito.

NOVA SEED (Work-In-Progress)

  • Dir. Nick Dilberto
  • Cast: Nick Dilberto
  • Canada / 64 min / 2016

An eye-popping animated sci-fi fable in the tradition of Moebius and Miyazaki, painstakingly hand-animated by independent Canadian animator Nick DiLiberto over four years. Despite spinning a familiar yarn that features a reluctant hero combating an evil subterranean mad-scientist (perfectly named Doctor Mind Skull), DiLiberto peppers every frame with wonderfully eclectic details that teases a much larger canvas as he catapults the audience from set-piece to set-piece with an aesthetic sensibility that feels both nostalgic and fresh.

SPACE BREAKERS

  • Dir. JAZ (Created at the Christie Rivers Day Camp)
  • Cast: Zak Tatham, Aaron Manczyk, Efehan Elbi
  • Canada / 55 min / 2016 / WORLD PREMIERE

The year is 1991, the universe is not our own, but rather a high-technology utopia wherein humanity stretches across multple star-systems, and manages an addiction to cream-based foodstuffs and perpetual body-modification. Following an altogether alien holiday celebration, three bros (Zak Tatham, Aaron Mancyzk and Efehan Elbi) witness a commercial for an intergalactic mall known as the biosphere, and, with the help of Zak’s sister Tima, hijack a spaceship in an effort to fulfill the libidinal desires promised by the advertisement. The resulting adventure is an anarchic comedy that pays tribute to JOHN CARPENTER’S DARK STAR and Tarkovsky’s SOLARIS, but with a hyperactive energy akin to the work of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, and a transgressive edge reminiscent of John Waters.

Sprung from the minds behind the hilarious Toronto underground web-series LIVING WITH FRIENDS, SPACE BREAKERS is sure to confound, baffle and even shock most audiences. However, those willing to join the film’s joyously demented wavelength will find themselves breaking into uncontrollable hysterics throughout as Zak, Aaron and Efehan squabble with stowaways, Tima transmogrifies into a tattoo-ridden bro, and the whole gang struggles to fight off a literal swarm of space dicks attempting to penetrate the ship. It only gets weirder from there.

The 2nd edition of the WHAT THE FILM FESTIVAL also featured a pay-to-leave marathon. In an effort to encourage audiences to sit through the entirety of this especially challenging, unconventional, and flat out bonkers short and feature film marathon, attendees whose eyeballs lack the patience and the willpower will be charged $5, otherwise the marathon is free to those who make it to the very end! 

The event was followed by musical performances from The J. Arthur Keenes Band, konig, and International Rockstar Bené.

The 1st edition of What The Film Festival took place on June 27th, 2015 and screened the following films:

WTFilm SHORTS PROGRAMME

CLOSE ENCOUNTER

  • Dir. Zak Tatham
  • Canada / 3 min / 2008

A love triangle between the filmmaker and his two selves. A side-splitting phantasmagoria of lo-fi FX compositing and surreally hilarious romantic repartee.

BIANCA

  • Dir. Tom Steeber
  • USA / 20 min / 2011

A mixed-media romantic nightmare starring Barbie(TM) in a role unlike anything you've since Todd Hayne's Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story.

TOPAZ DUO: COSMIX PHOENIX

  • Dir. Ben Robinson
  • Qatar / 12 min / 2012

Real-life Egyptian lounge singer act, Ahmed and Nahla, battle the forces of evil with the power of... lounge music!

MY JOHNNY

  • Dir. Vincent de Ghoulie
  • USA / 30 min / 2014

Purportedly co-directed by the ghost of George Kuchar (seriously), this is a wildly entertaining fever dream about LSD, babysitters, and the most foul mouthed child to ever grace a Final Cut Pro timeline.

WTFilm FEATURES:

PHOBE: THE XENOPHOBIC EXPERIMENT

  • Dir. Erica Benedikty
  • Canada / 81 min / 1990
  • WORLD PREMIERE OF REMASTERED VERSION!

Never before seen beyond limited airings on regional cable stations in Ontario throughout the mid-90s, Witness this ambitious maple-syrup drenched riff on The Terminator, complete with ray guns, spaceships, Blue Jay world series sweatshirts and lots of roman candles!

I AM A KNIFE WITH LEGS

  • Dir. Bennet Jones
  • USA / 94 min / 2014 / TORONTO PREMIERE

A kaleidoscopic DIY extravaganza of infectious music, absurdist comedy, and experimental barrages of Adobe After Effects-induced seizures, all in the interest of spinning the story of International Pop Star Bené and his manager/DJ/foil-character/drinking-buddy Beefy as they fight off all manner of assassins (some of them cute and adorable) within the confines of an LA apartment. To make matters worse: Bené just noticed that his eclair is weird.

WHAT THE FILM FESTIVAL is made possible by these awesome organizations: